Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Prepare Students for Success in the World with a 1-Page Proposal

Although school should prepare students for success in today’s careers, in many classrooms students are being prepared for yesterday’s job search. If they’re lucky, their school may take a break from test-prep and help students create a paper-based, one dimensional resume, but for many jobs that is an outdated form of displaying accomplishments and does nothing to set students apart from the rest as I wrote about in the story of this frustrated and jobless college grad.

Armond McFadden is another student anxious to find work that taps into his talent for photography, videography, and knowledge of buses. Unfortunately, as is the case in most schools today, there’s no place for real-world skills in test-prep factory schools. Today's system, which forces students to waste their time developing their memorization and regurgitation talents, leaves no child prepared for the successful pursuit of a 21st century career.  

Instead, teachers should begin helping their students develop a digital footprint that will attract the attention of potential employers. This might include a website, blog, About.Me page, Video site, Flickr site and more.  To package this information, teachers can provide their students with a competitive edge by helping them write what one company is calling a One-Page Proposal and it’s designed to produce a product that promotes the kind of discussion employers are looking for. The proposal gives students the opportunity to have a conversation with someone face-to-face about a real idea and allows job seekers to bypass the dry questions a resume elicits, and discuss something of substance.

Here is How The Product Works

  • Compresses your ideas, values and goals into one easy-to-read page.
  • Gives you all the tools you need to Write a 1-Page Job Proposal.
  • Helps you Discover which industry, company, person and idea are best for your skills and interests.
  • Directs the Research process which lays down the groundwork for your proposal.
  • Shows you how to Deliver your proposal to the key decision makers.

Here is How It Can Help

  • Proposes how you would address the challenges of the job.
  • Creates a "picture" of you in the role.
  • Enhances your appeal to recruiters and businesses.
  • Gives you a head start in your interviews.
  • Makes you stand out from the competition.

Here is A Sample 1-Page Proposal

Click the thumbnail to see the proposal.
As students work to develop their proposal, teachers can provide students support by giving feedback on ease of comprehension and ability to persuade. Teachers can also provide time for students to engage in videotaped practice interviews so they can self assess to see where they stumble or where their speaking skills need improvement. 

In today’s job market a succinct and well-conveyed expression of your experiences and ideas is necessary.  Supporting our students in creating the digital footprint and proposal that will get them the experience they need is a great start toward preparing students for success in the world.  


  1. An interesting idea although that sample is way too text heavy.

    I take issue with the assumption that you continually make (here and elsewhere) that skills for job seeking are not taught in schools because as you so succinctly put it they are "test-prep factories." I have taught English in different high schools and I can tell you that while there is test prep (after all, we are required by the state to take a test in 11th grade), there is also an attention to applicable reading and writing skills.

    These skills include but are not limited to: knowing how to properly read and fill out a job application; knowing how to read and properly fill out a contract; resume writing for both the college-bound student and the workforce-bound student; cover- and business-letter writing (whether it is paper or digital, the purpose and tone remain); as well as interview and presentation skills.

    Furthermore, I have seen districts with excellent technical education programs that work hard to provide some sort of apprenticeship or job placement if the student wants a job/career in that particular field.

    The idea of a digital footprint is one that we need to invest more time in exploring with our students (and we struggle with considering a lack of resources at times), but it's simply repackaging what's been tried and true in the job market. It's a correct repackaging but doesn't need to be presented as something that's new and revolutionary.

    The basic idea that we still put forward is that whomever is looking at you is looking at you "at a glance," and that glance better be impressive. This has been true since I entered the workforce more than a decade ago and is still true now, no matter what the medium.

  2. @Tom,
    Perhaps it is too text-heavy. Whether it is or isn't is the perfect proposal is a great conversation to have with students.

    Regarding your issue about my stating that schools don't prepare students for careers of today, I firmly stand by my words. I've asked thousands of teachers and students to share with me authentic student digital footprints and in almost all cases they come up short. Nothing complex. Just somewhere I could go online to see the student's qualifications. Just something that shows a minuscule amount of effort toward influencing who Google says the student is.

    I ask the same of you. Share with me the digital footprints aka 21st century resume you have worked with your students to create. I have rarely seen this in K-12 or College. I would love to see and showcase the authentic online presence you have helped your students create.

    The idea of a digital footprint should not be taken too lightly or thought of as repackaging alone. The 21st century worker has a whole new way to successfully market herself. Hiding behind excuses of like resources is unacceptable in a nation that spends billions on testing. We have the money. It needs to be allocated toward what matters. Additionally, if we were smarter about resources we wouldn't ban and block students from using their own digital devices.

    As far as tech programs, in many cities like mine these have all but disappeared as there is no time left in the curriculum for such endeavors. Interestingly, where I work the schools may still have names like automotive high school or career and tech high school but our automotive high school has no auto shop and our career and tech high school is the one that the student I refer to in this article came from. The school did not help him with a resume or digital footprint. There was no one at his school helping this talented teen in his career pursuit or even providing basic information necessary around work regulations for teens. From what he shared there was some information provided for students about how to fill out a fast-food chain application. This is NOT what I'm taking about when I write about 21st century career preparation.

  3. Great idea (and something that we all need to do, as well). Do you often work to teach new technologies (outside of integrating them into your teaching style), and the importance of a digital imprint/identity in today's world?